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  1. jtshort33
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    jtshort33 New Member

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    POV Question

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jtshort33, Feb 2, 2011.

    I want to write most of my story in first person, but the protagonist is really young at the beginning so I start with 3rd person POV. He is only a child when his family is attacked by the antagonist and his army. He makes it away alive with his father but his mother is killed. They warn the nearest city about the army. There is an epic battle scene when they siege the city. The antagonist vastly outnumbers the defending city and burns it to the ground. The boy and his father barely make it out alive. I then skip ahead when the boy is a teenager, and that is where I start first person POV.

    I really want to include this part of the story because it sets the framework for when the protagonist is older. I'm not sure though because third person seems a bit more difficult, and I'm not very experienced. Is starting out in 3rd person and then switching to 1st person too much? Should I try to tell this back story some other way? Also, are there any examples of this that I could read up on?

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. Heather Munn
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    Heather Munn Member

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    A lot of people ask about switching between first person and third person, but the truth is it's one of those things that is kind of "not done". Usually it's just a little too weird for the reader. (That doesn't mean you CAN'T do it of course. This is just my recommendation. But it's generally true in any kind of art or craft it's best to learn to work within the rules before you start breaking them.)

    One exception, though, is a prologue. A page or two at the beginning that is before the first chapter, maybe in italics or something, and that sets up maybe some history or some secret that's in the story.

    But it sounds as if what you've got is a little too long for a prologue.

    Honestly, what I would do if I were you is begin the story with the first-person story of the young boy (because that's probably what the reader is really interested in), and then embed the past story into it some way. There are various ways of doing this:

    - it's written in an old book or journal he finds somewhere, and he reads it. (This is a way of switching to third person sneakily without weirding out the reader: "So I sat down and read the book, and it went like this: When the Lords of Elda invaded the land of Zoon.......")
    - same as the above, only it's in letters someone writes to him
    - someone tells it to him
    - he already knows it, and tells it to the reader

    The question of whether he already knows it is important. It's pretty classic, and always interesting, to work with a young kid who doesn't know much about what happened to his parents. Take Harry Potter, for example: he gets told a little bit about the story but there's a lot he doesn't know, and he finds it out piece by piece, with a few things Dumbledore tells him, some rumors he hears, some old letters, etc. This is done really well, it's a good example to follow.


    Edit: whoa, my bad, I wasn't looking at your post when I commented and for some reason thought the kid was really just a toddler, too young to remember, when all the events happened. But it sounds as if that isn't necessarily so--like he's old enough to remember but young enough so his memories would be very subjective and confused.

    I feel like in this case he could tell us the story from his first-person point of view (you know, as if he now, as a teenager, is telling us the story of when he was a kid) and fill in the parts he didn't know then but does know now, and just inform us he's doing that (so no one goes "a kid wouldn't have known why the king did such and such!") You know, he could be like, "My father says that what the Lords of Elda wanted was our silver mines..."
     
  3. jtshort33
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    jtshort33 New Member

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    Those are great ideas, thank you very much.
     
  4. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Well, I was having that same problem about switching POVs. My novella was in the first person, but I needed to swtich. Therefore, I switched the main character's Pov to the 3rd person, hence my readers found it confusing.
     
  5. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    It sounds like a prologue in that it "sets up the story". But it's really longer, and is the full rising phase of the book. So, make a clean break anyway, and call it "Part 1" and "Part 2". Make sure Part 1 has the elements of a complete story too (subplot that is resolved).
     
  6. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    I agree with that.

    I that it's a great idea to have him recall what occurred.
     
  7. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    I think that swiching from third to first person is really confusing. I prefer to choose one and go for it. The thing is: what is the better choice for your story.

    First person allows you to show your MC deep within. In the other hand, third person allows you to describe what's happening with other characters when your MC is not in the scene. Forst person is the look of one person into the events. Both can be good. It depends on what will fit better your story.

    In my opionion, you should stick to the first person. It would be interesting to me to read what the main character felt like first hand, what he was thinking when his land and home where being destroied.
     

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